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Welcome to Week 23 of The Free Agent Watch, Baseball Prospectus’ weekly free agent answer to Dear Abby. This column is designed to offer a brief glimpse into the top free agents in 12-team mixed, 15-team mixed, and AL and NL-only formats, with the idea being that while we can’t address every unique free agent situation in your league, we can guide you through the waters and help with the broader strokes of the decision making process.

I (Mike) will be tackling all the mixed-league formats, while Keith will be handling the only-league duties.

Table 1: 12-Team Mixed Hitter

LAST 15 DAYS

Player

H/AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

%OWN

+/-

Didi Gregorius, NYY SS

20/49

11

3

14

0

.408

29.5

+15.2

Blake Swihart, Bos C

11/31

8

1

3

3

.355

24.1

+13.1

J.P. Arencibia, TB C, 1B

12/32

6

4

11

0

.375

12.5

+12.2

Brandon Moss, StL 1B, OF

14/46

7

4

7

0

.304

54.6

+11.9

Brett Lawrie, Oak 3B, 2B

13/48

11

4

7

0

.271

33.9

+6.1

Jed Lowrie, Hou SS, 3B

11/44

8

3

7

0

.250

14.6

+5.4

Mark Canha, Oak 1B, OF

14/53

10

4

12

2

.264

25.5

+5

Christian Yelich, Mia OF

14/37

8

0

4

1

.378

51.1

+4.7

Martin Prado, Mia 3B, 2B

21/55

8

2

13

0

.382

36.5

+4.2

Yangervis Solarte, SD 2B, 1B, 3B

19/58

9

2

8

0

.328

3 6.4

+3.8

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Wednesday, September 9
Repeaters From Week 22: Gregorius, Swihart, Prado

Swihart continues to hit and Arencibia is putting together the odd hot streak he seems to put together from time to time, but as I mentioned last week neither catcher is a sensible add in one catcher, 12-team formats. I might add Swihart if I really needed to gamble on the steals and had power locked up, but even this is a stretch.

Moss has benefited from the combination of a strong lineup, better health, and an improved approach at the plate to put together a hot streak. He is a prototypical “ride the hot hand” kind of player, though in standard mixed is only worth considering if you need an injury replacement. Lawrie and Solarte are also playing well (Solarte has been even more impressive in real life based on his WAR), but both seem more appropriate in deeper mixed formats based on their overall potential.

Mark Canha has been such an underrated asset this year that I am tempted to recommend him, even though he is another player whose overall line (14 home runs, 51 runs, 60 RBI, seven steals, .258 batting average) isn’t impressive. However, if you can take the batting average hit this is one of the better power/speed combinations you might be able to acquire in the stretch run.

Mike Recommends: Christian Yelich
Canha might be the better statistical play, but I’m going with the talent in Yelich. Even if the power doesn’t come this year, Yelich plays in four other categories across the board and the steals (15 so far in 2015) are an underrated part of his game.

Table 2: 12-Team Mixed Pitcher

LAST 15 DAYS

Player

IP

K

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

%OWN

+/-

Week 23

Josh Tomlin, Cle

21.2

20

3

0

2.49

0.74

54.8

+29.5

J.A. Happ, Pit

18.2

20

3

0

1.45

0.64

46.0

+23.6

CHC

Joe Kelly, Bos

19.0

12

3

0

1.89

1.21

33.3

+10.9

@BAL

Rick Porcello, Bos

22.1

22

2

0

1.61

0.94

24.1

+9.1

@BAL, @TOR

Ervin Santana, Min

15.0

21

2

0

0.60

0.93

20.4

+6.1

DET

Eduardo Rodriguez, Bos

12.0

11

2

0

1.50

1.58

34.9

+5

@TOR

Mike Bolsinger, LAD

5.0

6

1

0

5.40

0.80

13.7

+3.8

PIT

Tommy Milone, Min

19.1

13

2

0

2.79

0.98

11.0

+3.5

LAA

Cody Anderson, Cle

17.1

9

1

0

2.08

0.75

7.7

+3.3

KC

Erik Johnson, CWS

6.0

3

1

0

4.50

0.83

2.9

+2.6

OAK

Source: ESPN, Razzball Expert League. Stats through Wednesday, September 9
Repeaters from Week 23: Tomlin, Kelly, Happ, Porcello

Table 2 remains the domain of the matchup play, which is obvious in any standard mixed league that is not a keeper. As I did last week, I would eliminate the moderate/low strikeout guys from consideration immediately, which knocks out Milone, Anderson, and Johnson. Milone could provide value in a home start against the Angels, but let someone else roll the dice on BABIP in this format. Kelly could be included in the low whiff/do not consider list but he has pitched so well of late that he elevates to a matchup play. With a road game in hitter-friendly Baltimore, he is a pass this week, but against a weaker lineup he is worth trying.

Porcello is the lone two-start pitcher on Table 2, and he is certainly the play if you need to push for wins and especially for strikeouts. However, the two road starts against strong offenses in hitters’ parks isn’t a recipe for success, and unless it is an elite or near-elite pitcher, no fantasy owner should mess with facing Toronto. Even with Porcello’s recent upswing, this knocks him out of consideration.

Mike Recommends: J.A. Happ
On the surface, this may seem like a poor recommendation. Happ draws the Cubs, a tough matchup for any pitcher. However, the Cubs prodigious whiff rate (24.5% this season) make them a good opponent if you are trying to rack up strikeouts, plus Happ gets the benefit of PNC Park. Combine this with the Cubs subpar numbers against southpaws (22nd in wOBA in 2015), and suddenly Happ is a sneakily decent play this week.

Table 3: 15-Team Mixed Hitter (Last 14 Days)

Player

Own%

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

Rios, Alex (OF)

26.93

11

0

0

0

0

.091

Simmons, Andrelton (SS)

21.39

43

2

0

4

0

.209

Seager, Corey (SS)

19.21

25

5

0

4

1

.360

Butler, Billy (1B)

18.02

33

6

2

5

0

.515

Escobar, Eduardo (2B,SS,3B,OF)

15.05

41

9

1

7

0

.317

Suzuki, Kurt (C)

12.08

31

5

1

2

0

.258

Gregorius, Didi (SS)

10.50

45

10

2

12

0

.400

Conforto, Michael (OF)

9.70

34

4

3

7

0

.324

Santana, Danny (SS,OF)

7.72

2

0

0

0

1

.000

Flowers, Tyler (C)

7.72

14

2

1

6

0

.214

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats through Wednesday, September 9
Repeaters from Week 22: Simmons, Escobar, Suzuki, Gregorius, Santana, Flowers

Table 3 is why Bret Sayre and I are losing sleep at night because of LABR Mixed, where our lead entering Friday’s games has dwindled down to half a point. In leagues like LABR where you can’t stash minor leaguers in-season, Seager is available, and if no one else is paying attention Fred Zinkie of MLB.com will likely snag the hot young shortstop for a FAAB bid of $1. Initially, it didn’t seem like the hot young prospect would play every day, but if he hits he is going to find a place in the Dodgers lineup… and should find a place in your fantasy lineup. The power will come.

Conforto is the other player on this list who shouldn’t be available in deep mixed leagues. He is sitting against left-handed pitching, but he should get a healthy amount of playing time down the stretch for the Mets as he is one of a handful of players the Mets will play almost every day in an effort to see what he is capable of in the postseason. This playing time is likely to include a few reps against southpaws. The power has been better than advertised, and my initial recommendation of Conforto as a fourth or fifth outfielder in deeper mixed appears to have been off base.

If your league still has a lot of FAAB floating around – or if you’re lower on the waiver wire food chain – Butler and Gregorius both have some potential value. Butler has had a disappointing season but like a number of A’s is finally starting to hit. He isn’t going to hit .500 the rest of the way, but a well-timed hot streak could carry his deeper mixed fantasy teams into the promised land.

Mike Recommends: Corey Seager
Conforto would be a fine addition as well, but while Seager hasn’t hit any balls over the fence it seems likely that the power will come. With the Dodgers opening up a huge lead in the NL West, it is probable that the Dodgers will attempt to maximize Seager’s playing time to see how much of a weapon he can be in the playoffs. He won’t steal bases, but he will contribute everywhere else.

Table 4: 15-Team Mixed Pitcher

Player

Own%

W

ERA

SV

IP

SO

WHIP

Week 23

Haren, Dan

70.89

1

1.50

0

18.0

13

1.11

@PIT

Storen, Drew

33.86

0

4.50

0

6.0

7

1.67

Fister, Doug

27.33

1

0.00

0

4.1

2

0.92

Rodney, Fernando

23.76

1

6.00

0

6.0

8

1.33

Bolsinger, Michael

20.99

1

5.40

0

5.0

6

0.80

PIT

Young, Chris

15.05

1

1.23

0

7.1

8

1.09

Martinez, Nicholas

14.65

0

0.00

0

0.0

0

0.00

Roark, Tanner

11.49

0

2.08

0

4.1

1

1.85

MIA

Milone, Tommy

10.69

2

1.29

0

14.0

11

0.71

LAA

Feldman, Scott

9.50

0

10.12

0

2.2

2

3.00

SOURCE: RT Sports, LABR Mixed, Stats through Wednesday, September 9
Repeaters from Week 22: Haren, Storen, Fister, Rodney, Bolsinger, Young, Feldman

Only four of the 10 pitchers on Table 4 are slated to start in Week 23, although all four of these pitchers all decent-enough streamer options in deeper mixed formats. Haren is helped by pitching in PNC, and arguably is pitching in the most favorable venue of any of the starters in the table above. However, the Pirates still offer a tough matchup so he isn’t a gimmie by any stretch. Milone is more appealing in deeper mixed than he is in standard mixed, but while Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have both tailed off Post All-Star, the home run potential in that game is a little unsettling. Bolsinger was solid before his demotion, but his first start back from the minors wasn’t great, and he could still be shaking off some rust. The Pirates on the road aren’t a great matchup.

Mike Recommends: Tanner Roark
In quality start leagues, Roark comes with some risk, but otherwise he offers a solid opportunity this week against one of the weaker offenses in baseball. He isn’t a great strikeout play, but he should pitch more than 4 1/3 innings this time around, and if you are simply looking for a wins option in Week 23, Roark is your best bet. For all of the Nationals recent struggles, they have performed very well against the non-Mets NL East opponents. —Mike Gianella

AL-ONLY

Shawn O'Malley, OF, Seattle Mariners

A fifth-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays back in the 2006 MLB draft, O’Malley toiled in the minors over parts of nine seasons before finally getting a cup of coffee with the Angels last season. After being released, he signed with the Mariners in January and spent all of this season in Triple-A until his call-up on September 1st when rosters were expanded. While primarily a second baseman in the minors, O’Malley will be Brad Miller’s backup in center dfield the last month of the season for the Mariners. The 27-year-old with 10 years of professional ball under his belt has gotten six starts since his call-up to Seattle and has reached base in each of those games while posting 11 total bases and 1.422 OPS over 22 PA. O’Malley’s appeal is his speed potential, as he has amassed 206 career steals in the minors, including 21 steals this season. He is worth a FAAB flier to fill a dead spot in hopes that he can get you a swipe or two as a one-week fill-in.

Sean Nolin, SP, Oakland A’s

One of the four players the A’s acquired from the Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade this offseason, Nolin made his A’s debut on Sunday and produced a quality start, despite taking the loss, against the Mariners. The 6-foot-4 southpaw has logged impressive numbers over part of six seasons in the minors, including a 3.02 ERA and 9.1 K/9 over 485 1/3 innings. Nolin should get a chance to stick in the A’s rotation for the remainder of the season, making him a decent waiver-wire play in deep AL-only leagues if you are in a need of SP.

Other AL-Only FAAB options: Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Nolan Reimold; OF, Baltimore Orioles; Grady Sizemore, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Jonny Gomes, OF, Kansas City Royals; Jerry Sands, OF, Cleveland Indians; Terrance Gore, OF, Kansas City Royals; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees; Jonathan Villar , IF, Houston Astros; Drew Stubbs, OF, Texas Rangers; Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, Kansas City Royals; Mikie Mahtook , OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Mychal Givens, RP, Baltimore Orioles; Heath Hembree, RP, Boston Red Sox; Michael Feliz, RP, Houston Astros

NL-ONLY

Cristhian Adames, IF, Colorado Rockies

The September call-up last week for Adames could be an audition to see if the 24-year-old infielder can play a prominent role for the Rockies in 2016. With Troy Tulowitzki now in Toronto and Jose Reyes’ long-term future in Colorado in doubt, Adames might be in the mix for the Opening Day shortstop spot next season. The middle infielder had struggled offensively in his first few years in professional baseball, but took another step forward this season (albeit in the PCL), slashing .311/.362/.438 in Triple-A, including 11 home runs and 11 stolen bases. Adames is known more for his defensive prowess than his hitting skills, but Coors Field can certainly help any hitter’s offensive production. It is still unknown how much playing time the young middle infielder will receive the last few weeks of this season, but there is upside here even if Adames only sees 10-12 ABs a week. In NL-only keeper-league formats, Adames has additional value as a future play for 2016.

Zach Davies, SP, Milwaukee Brewers

Davies was acquired from the Orioles in the Gerardo Parra deadline deal and made his major-league debut for the Brewers on Wednesday night against the Pirates. He was leading 3-0 heading into the fourth inning but allowed a three-run bomb to Aramis Ramirez that frame and could not make it out of the fifth, ending up with a no-decision. The knock on Davies has been his size; he is listed at 150 pounds, and after watching his start Wednesday, I do not think he has put on any weight since the beginning of the season. That said, he has posted solid numbers in the minors, and while his fastball tops out in the low-90s, he has a plus changeup and changed speeds effectively in his big-league debut. He struggled with his command against the Pirates but has posted strong BB/9 rates in his minor-league career, so I would not read too much into that after one start. The 22-year-old right-hander will toe the rubber against the Marlins in his next start, making him a decent streaming option next week in NL-only formats.

Other NL-Only FAAB options: Luis Sardinas, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Quintin Berry, OF, Chicago Cubs; Greg Garcia, INF, St. Louis Cardinals; Justin Ruggiano, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers; Jason Rogers, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers; Mike Bolsinger, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants; Edwin Jackson, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves; Matt Stites, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks; Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado RockiesKeith Cromer